Volume 43, Number 168,
January-March 2012
Interstate Tourism Development
between Puerto Vallarta and Bahía de Banderas: Mexico
Marco A. Merchand Rojas

For the interstate region of Puerto Vallarta and Bahía de Banderas, the concept of region is distinguished from a space by its internal homogeneity (beach and sun) and for the advantage presented by the approximately 15 km stretch of beach between Puerto Vallarta and Bahía de Banderas. These unique elements lend the region a specific character and define its extension based on the region's socioeconomic characteristics (earnings profile, investments in the tourism sector, employed workforce, etc.)

In this way, the concept of region implicitly refers to a meaningful spatial aggregate that concentrates a pole or focal point, where the area of influence accepts the existence of three types of regions: homogenous regions, nodal, polarized or functional regions, and Plan regions.

For the purposes of this study, these three types of regions are operative in the region we are focusing on. Puerto Vallarta and Nueva Vallarta (Bahía de Banderas - Nayarit) are municipalities that have the same geographic and natural characteristics (homogenous regions). They are both nodal and polarized as they concentrate an agglomeration of businesses located in an exclusive tourism zone. Finally, they are Plan regions by way of federal, local and municipal authorities that consider them as a region of tourism planning that allows for the presence of hotel chain conglomerates (Merchand, M., 2008).

The region focused on in this study is environmentally rich and scenic. It is made up of five municipalities with both intra- and inter-economic links in Puerto Vallarta: Compostela and Bahía de Banderas in the state of Nayarit, and Cabo Corrientes, San Sebastian del Oeste and Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco.8 These municipalities are characterized for being a homogenous region in which the growth dynamic of services in the tourism sector has grown beyond the state of Jalisco. The municipalities of Bahía de Banderas show extra growth due to high demand and low availability of land, within the municipality of Puerto Vallarta. San Sebastian del Oeste has taken off as an attraction for its urban character and conservation. Cabo Corrientes (Jalisco) is full of forested areas, and also offers a significant variety of beaches and natural zones with potential for tourist exploitation.

Returning to the concept of region mentioned above, there are three relevant levels to consider: the regional level (five municipalities), the metropolitan level, which includes the interstate municipalities of Bahía de Banderas and Puerto Vallarta (the micro-region focused on in this study), and the conurbation level (which corresponds to the urban unit made up of the population of Puerto Vallarta and Bahía de Banderas). These three discreet levels are characterized by their links and socioeconomic activities based on tourism promotion.


It is important to note that the Municipality of Bahía de Banderas9 was created by decree10 with the purpose of developing the Integrally Planned Center (ipc) of Punta de Mita. This ipc originated the independent municipality of Bahía de Banderas in 1970, the value of the entity consisted of 4,136 hectares of land located over approximately 85 kilometers of coastal plane, in what was then the Municipality of Compostela (an area that includes the current Municipality of Bahía de Banderas).

It was created by the discretion of the state, a tourism development strategy that would foster the arrival of hotel companies in keeping with the natural advantages that the new municipality of Bahía de Banderas enjoyed. To solidify the project, and also due to the economic interests being generated, the state government justified the expropriation of the natural inhabitants, saying the choice was sparked by issues of location and natural characteristics, both for the municipality and its area of influence.

8 Zoning Program for the Inter-state Metropolitan Zone of Puerto Vallarta-Bahía de Banderas, technical document (December 5, 2007).

9 The region of Bahía de Banderas was an isolated territory for many years, forgotten and unknown, just like many areas of Mexican coastland. This situation began to change starting in the 1940s and 1950s, with the so-called "march to the sea." In the past fifty years, Mexican Pacific coastlands have achieved a significant change, transforming some regions into zones with high development potential, especially in the Mexican mid-pacific region, with the so-called Golden Triangle, made up by the states of Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit.

10 Presidency of the Republic, Presidential Decree dated November 18, 1970, Diario Oficial of the United Mexican States.

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Published in Mexico, 2012-2018 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 195 October-December 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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